ASK MBA: HOW OFTEN SHOULD I GREASE MY BIKE’S SUSPENSION PIVOTS?

Serving your bike's suspension pivots will extend their longevity and performance but only if you do it often enough

Ensuring your pivot-points and bearings are regularly greased will keep your bike running smoothly.

 

KEEPING IT GREASY

Q: Good day! I’ve been riding for a few years now and like to do as much maintenance myself as I can. I seem to hear a few different things and opinions regarding bike washing and frame maintenance, and am looking for a clearer answer. How often should I be breaking down the frame and linkage on my bike and removing the bearings to clean and re-grease? I’m currently on a 2021 Norco Sight and am riding about three times per week, mainly in dry and dusty conditions with occasional wet riding. Thank you!
Nigel Gafton
New South Wales, Australia

A: That’s a great question and an excellent point in general that we have seen overlooked by many. Understanding the nuances of bike maintenance, particularly regarding washing and taking care of your frame, can indeed be surrounded by a multitude of varying opinions. We believe it’s important to find the balance between too much and too little (or too often and not often enough) when it comes to looking after your frame and the pivot points on your bike.

We’ve seen people go years without thinking about the bearings in their frames and ruin components, while others have compromised theirs by cleaning and greasing way too often. The frequency of breaking down your frame and linkage for a thorough cleaning and re-greasing of the bearings almost entirely depends on the conditions in which you ride and how often you’re washing your bike. It appears that you are mainly riding in dry and dusty conditions a few times per week, so checking your linkage and bearings isn’t something you constantly need to fret over.

We would recommend, at the very least, that you break down your frame and do a thorough inspection, cleaning and re-greasing of the bearings twice a year. If you tend to wash your bike after every ride and frequently use a bike wash or de-greaser, which can wash out the grease in the bearings and pivot points, then we would recommend a frame breakdown every three months or so to keep things running smoothly.

 

 

But, let’s not solely rely on the calendar. Your bike, in its own unique way, communicates its needs. An unexpected creak or a subtle amount of play in the frame can be your bike’s way of hinting at a required check-up, even if it’s only been a short while since the last one. Big impacts or a short burst of wet and muddy weather can knock something loose or force dirt and grit into areas it shouldn’t be, or sometimes water can work its way into a pivot bearing, prematurely wearing it out or causing rust.

It’s wise to regularly look over and feel your frame and components before and after each ride, keeping an eye out for any loose bolts, wear or potential damage, and to feel for any binding or grit in the linkage. Often, a simple cleaning session or burst of air from a compressor can clean this out and get your bike running smoothly, or it can be an indication of a larger problem that you can now address without making it worse. At the end of the day, you should always be aware of how your bike feels and sounds while out on the trail, as this is the best indicator of what it currently needs.

 

Riding conditions will dictate how often you need to service your pivots. Photo by Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool

 

And when you dive into the world of hands-on maintenance, always arm yourself with high-quality, bike-specific grease for your bearings and pivot points. We have been using Maxima’s tried and true waterproof grease, which is a lithium complex grease that is high-performing and water-resistant and offers excellent corrosion protection. Bike-specific grease not only lasts longer and is usually water-resistant, but it’s also formulated to not react chemically with carbon or alloy frames.

And last, while being hands-on with the maintenance and care of your bike is commendable, never hesitate to seek expert advice when in doubt or when a specific tool is needed (like an expensive bearing press). A quick chat with a seasoned bike mechanic or a visit to your local bike shop can offer the tailored advice you need, ensuring your bike remains running smoothly and free from any damage caused by a botched garage fix.

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